May 14, 2021

So, I know the idea of "gut health" has been trending for a while now. People are saying that eating a wide variety of healthy foods, including fermented foods, is great for your gut. And it is! But why? How does gut health, and gut bacteria, make you healthy...or unhealthy?

Dara Laporta

Today, I want to give you an easy-to-understand answer to all of these questions, so you're not just "going with your gut" (haha) when it comes to which foods to eat, and why!

What's going on in your gut

First of all, I want to give you a basic introduction to what your gut does. Obviously, you know your gut is where food is digested!

But what you may not know is, there is bacteria in all of your gastrointestinal tract: your esophagus, your stomach, and your intestines. Yep, bacteria live everywhere in your body, and they are spread out all over your digestive system, but mostly in your intestines. I know the idea of bacteria inside you sounds a little gross, but a lot of it is good bacteria.

What exactly does that mean? Well, a sort of "ecosystem" of good and bad bacteria live together in your gut – and this ecosystem is unique to each person. Factors ranging from your diet, to how often you exercise, how much you weigh, and what medications you're taking (e.g. antibiotics) affect how your gut ecosystem (also called "gut microbiome") looks.

But there are also some factors that you don't have control over, like your genetics or your age, that are going to affect your gut. So, that means it's even MORE important to be aware of the factors you do have control over so that you can maintain a healthy gut!

Why is a healthy gut important?

So, we already mentioned that a healthy gut helps with digestion. And that makes sense, right? For example, we are not naturally able to digest dietary fiber easily, but the healthier your gut is, the more easily it digests fiber. (And in the process, the broken-down fiber can release its own health benefits – it's not only great for bowel health, but it is actually great for regulating your blood sugar!)

Other essential gut functions include:

  • Defending your body against harmful microorganisms
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Helping your body absorb vitamins and nutrients.

There are even some studies showing that your gut health affects your mental health!!

What to eat

home made cultured vegetables in jars fermenting to be used as a probiotic food
homemade cultured vegetables in jars fermenting to be used as a probiotic food

So, I know the stereotypical gut health food for women over 40 is yogurt. (You know, the Activia commercials with Jamie Lee Curtis??) But I assure you, even if you don't like yogurt, you still have lots of options to help improve your gut health. Any fermented foods – yogurt included but also kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and tempeh – reduce bad bacteria and boost good bacteria, to help balance your gut.

But one thing many people don't realize is, gut health isn't just about pumping your body full of fermented foods. Eating foods high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables and beans, and also having as diverse a diet as possible (all the colors in the rainbow!), help healthy gut bacteria to flourish.

Also, as you could probably expect, it's not just about what you eat that keeps your gut healthy, but what you AVOID eating. All the fermented probiotic foods in the world, and all the fiber-filled prebiotics in the world, won't help you if you are constantly eating:

  • Artificial sweeteners (they pass through your digestive tract without being able to be digested, so when they hit your gut fully intact, they negatively impact the microbiome)
  • Red meat (a compound in red meat called carnitine produces "trimethylamine-N-oxide." Whew! That's a mouthful! But all you need to know about that is, it's been shown to negatively affect gut health, so eat red meat in moderation.)
  • Fake food (It goes without saying that processed food is bad for you, with artificial ingredients and preservatives. But it's also about what processed food DOESN'T have – the vitamins and nutrients like fiber that make your gut happy.)

Three cheers – or gut-busting belly laughs – for a healthy gut!!

I hope I helped you gain at least a basic understanding of gut health, and why it's important. Hopefully, you are already doing these things for your lifestyle anyway (eating healthy and exercising)! And so, maintaining a healthy gut is just one more reason to do the right thing for your body, with healthy actions and behaviors.

I'd love to help with sticking to your health and wellness goals. My new "Rise & Shine" COURSE is all about forming a morning routine (and nighttime routine) that works for you and will change your life! To learn more CLICK HERE!

To learn more about me or my other Coaching Programs, CLICK HERE to visit my website.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.